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The Effects of Religion and Patriarchal Norms on Female Labor Force Participation

By Chidinma Hannah Nnoromele

This paper provides an empirical study of the influence of religion, religiosity, and patriarchal norms on female labor force participation across 40 countries. Using micro-level data from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) 2012: “Family and Changing Gender Roles IV and macro-level data from World Bank Group’s Women, Business, and the Law 2012 database, the study examines religious and patriarchal aspects that influence female labor force participation among working women, ages 15 to 64. The analysis supports the hypothesis that more religious and socially conservative women are less likely to have paid work. However, the analysis, which examines ten different religions, finds that the specific religion a woman practices, excluding the cultural religions (Judaism and Hinduism), does not influence female labor force participation when controlling for national and environmental cultural factors. This suggests that a country’s institutions, socio-political context, and geographic cultural heritage matter in the way that religiosity is expressed in women’s economic participation.

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Advisor: Michael Munger, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: J1, D19, J21, J22

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